15 minutes a day might be ok

26 Aug 2015

A new study has backed earlier research - even 15 minutes of brisk walking a day has significant health benefits.

Research in recent years has found that a little exercise is a lot better than none. In a huge study of more than 400,000 people in Taiwan, those who did an average 92 minutes a week or 15 minutes per day of moderate exercise like brisk walking had a 14% reduced risk of death compared to those who got no exercise.  Their life expectancy was 2.55 years longer for men and 3.67 years longer for women. 

The study found that the largest health gains came from the first 1-2 hours of exercise a week. However every additional 15 minutes of exercise each day further reduced risk by 5%.

Now some new research has looked specifically at older people, aged 60 or more, over a range of studies with a total of 122,400 participants. It found that people who got some exercise - around 75 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical exercise a week, had a 22% lower risk of death than those who got no exercise. Those who reached physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes per week had a 28% lower risk.

The results varied a lot between women and men.  The reduction in risk was 32% for women but only 14% for men. 

The authors note "the greatest benefits are seen in those who change from doing the least or no (exercise) to doing more."

It seems that any exercise is better than nothing, but clearly the more walking you do, the better!